Hurricane Harvey brought out what likely amounts to unprecedented generosity toward Houston police officers – especially those whose homes were all but destroyed by flood waters.
The Tzu Chi Foundation, an international Buddhist-inspired organization, ardently believes in the importance of taking care of those who are taking care of the community.
This generous benefit was the latest among the cash provisions for HPD personnel. It goes alongside Assist the Officer Foundation’s ongoing Harvey Relief Fund set up to help officers with severely damaged homes with cash amounts of $1,000 or more, depending on the severity of damage estimates.
Tzu Chi Foundation officials participated in a joint news conference with HPD officials to unveil its latest plan to help those special responders – the Houston police officers and their administrative support staff.
Tzu Chi provided 600 gift certificates, each totaling $600 to be presented to HPD officers and civilian support staff whose homes suffered severe damage from Hurricane Harvey.
The organization stressed that while many people evacuated to higher ground during Harvey, first responders put their own lives on the line to save others during the and after the hurricane.
To accurately distribute the cash gifts, the Department provided a list of qualified individuals to the HPOU and Assist the Officer Foundation officials.
“These individuals included both classified officers and civilians,” HPOU 3rd Vice President Tom Hayes explained. “We made contact with the 600 employees by phone or email. It took quite a bit of work by the Union staff as the ATO staff to accomplish this. Everybody who’s eligible has been contacted.”
Hayes said so far 450 of the 600 have come to the Union office and signed for their $600 cash certificate they will use for home repairs.
As for ATO’s Harvey Relief Fund, so far there have been 390 who have filled out applications. All first responders throughout Harris County whose primary residences suffered severe hurricane damage are eligible for the fund.
“ATO has issued checks ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 based on the damage to those individuals’ homes,” Hayes explained.
The post-Harvey situation marked the first time most HPD leaders had encountered the Tzu Chi USA Foundation.
Their spokesman said the foundation supplied volunteers to provide hurricane disaster relief in Greenspoint, Dickinson, Wharton, Beaumont, La Grange, Richmond, Rosenberg, Mesa community, Rockport and Port Arthur, as well as home cleanup services in Bellaire.
By the first week in October a foundation spokesman said, “The first phase of our Hurricane Harvey disaster relief mission has now ended, and we are immensely grateful to have been able to provide close to $7 million in direct cash card emergency disaster aid, helping over 12,000 families (nearly 35,000 individuals) in the hardest hit areas.”